Monday, January 08, 2007

Alligator night

I have been to the Amazon once. It was an exciting time. As I flew from Sao Paulo towards Manaus, I was watching the scenery below. The green area went on and on, without any break, no artificial constructs in sight. I was an awe-inspiring experience. I wonder how much of that green vastness has been destroyed, but there must be pretty much still left.

In the city of Manaus I visited the famous opera house and the market. In the market, I had a mixed fruit juice the like of which I had never tasted, and had not encountered ever since. It is somehow hard to describe the qualia, but you felt that there were "molecules of vitality" in every sip you took from the glass.

I stayed in Manaus area for only two nights. On the second day, I went on a river tour. A boat took me to a floating house on the shore of the Amazon river. I slept on the hammock and looked at butterflies and it was almost like a dreamtime. As a kid, I always wanted to go to the Amazon. It was my precious dreams-come-true experience.

The highlight of this very small Amazon venture, at that particular visit, was the "hunting of alligators" in the middle of the night. As night fell, there was complete darkness, as no artificial light source was around. We were put on a small boat and set on a cruise on the great river. There was no sound to be heard except for the engine. We went into one of the branch flows, and the engine was cut off. There was complete silence, and the boat cruised on very smoothly by momentum.

The tour guide took out a flashlight, and directed it to the shores. After some searching, he spotted it. There were this barely discernible pair of "gleaming round pebbles" on the shore. As the boat silently approached, the gleaming became increasingly strong, and before you knew it, the guide stretched out his arms and the next moment, a small alligator was hung by the tail in his hands. We helpless people from the north applauded, secretly admiring the swiftness of the guide's actions, which looked almost miraculous and done by what appeared to us wild instinct, enjoying from the depth of heart the whole experience.

As the boat made its way back to the floating house, a feeling of bliss surged inside me. We were buried in the soft darkness, and when I looked up, I could see the sky-filling stars. I discovered then that the phrase "becoming one with nature" was a very accurate and literal expression of what actually happens under certain circumstances.

That was then, this is now. I am stuck in the megalopolis of Tokyo. I haven't been to Amazonia for more than 10 years.

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